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The Horror Formula

I remember taking a writing course a few years ago. It was a class on fiction writing and we discussed genres a lot. Basically, you have to know genres to able to choose the right audience for your story. So, going over all the different genres and their themes made sense.

There are so many different genres I can’t even keep up. There are your basics like mystery, romance, action, science fiction, and fantasy. Then there are your sub-genres of those groups. Have you ever heard of black comedy? Gothic fiction? Hollywood novel? All of these are sub-genres of a larger genre. It is absolutely incredible how many sub-genres are out there.

Some of these sub-genres have massive audiences. One of the biggest is sub-genres is called Splatterpunk.The best way I can define it is every slasher film you’ve ever heard of. Ever see the movie where everyone gets killed by a manic with a knife? Friday the 13th? Scream? Halloween? All the characters die off one by one until the very end when the last person alive stops the maniac killer. 

But why are people drawn to these types of stories, though? Aren’t they violent and gross? Some are even perverse. I’m sure most people don’t regularly watch movies like this, but they still draw massive crowds. I mean, who really wants to watch people get brutally murdered, but people still flock to the theaters to see these stories. So, with Halloween quickly approaching I thought I’d share the connection I made between horror villains and our sinful natures.


Here is my observation. Have you ever noticed that the only people who die in these stories are fornicators, drug users, or just plain old “bad” people. The one left standing in the end is always the innocent one and they never die. They always stop the evil mad man in the end. It is only the sinners that get murdered.

Something we discussed in my writing course stood out to me. Horror stories are morality tales. They warn us of our sins in an Old Testament fashion. So, I think the appeal to these stories may be ingrained into out nature. Maybe people feel a punishment looming for a life full of sinfulness.

In a recent documentary I watched on the horror genre, it is mentioned that horror villains are forces of nature. Every time they show up it is raining, lightening, or gushing wind. I think there is an element of truth in that, too. God uses nature throughout the Bible to punish the wicked. Floods. Fire. Storms. Plagues.


Ecclesiastes 12:14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.

Before Christ came into the world there were many times when God punished the wicked. Look at Sodom and Gomorrah. Those people were the worst of the worst. They were so bad that he destroyed the city and only allowed Lot and his family to escape. 

What about the passover? A dark angel killing all the first-born sons. He goes house to house and murders the first-born sons. Nothing can stop him expect the blood of a lamb on the outside door. The only people who knew to do that were God’s people and they were spared.

Then there’s Noah. All the sinners are killed by the flood, but Noah is sparred by God’s grace. He’s given instruction to build an ark and preserve the future of the world.

Sounds a lot like our horror formula. The sinners are destroyed and the innocent are allowed to live. 

It makes me grateful that I can stand righteous because of the sacrifice Jesus made for me.


Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God

It is our nature to sin. We’ve done it and we’ll do it again. What makes Christians different from everyone else is they recognize that they need to be forgiven for their sins. There is this sense inside of us that says, “something isn’t right with how I act”. There is a part of a Christian that knows that they’ll be held accountable for their sins.

In a world without Christ we would be facing judgement for our sins. We may have to drown in a flood, face the angel of death, or be destroyed by fire. But we do not have to worry about that anymore. We can search for forgiveness and we find it on the cross. Imagine that psychopathic killer is after you for all of your sins. You are about to be judged for all the sins you’ve committed, but suddenly you see Jesus stand in the way and he dies in your place. He doesn’t die quickly either, but horribly and in his last breath he tells you, “You are forgiven”. Then the psychopathic killer walks away.

I think that is why people love horror films. It is in our human nature to sin, but also we are aware that we are accountable for our sins. Until we ask Christ to come into our lives, we are like one of those characters that gets killed before the end. It is the ones that stay innocent that live until the end, but the only way we can be innocent is to ask for forgiveness. All we have to do is ask Christ to be saved from our sins and we’ll be the ones living until the end.


Psalms 27:1 The Lord is my Light and my Salvation–whom shall I fear or dread? The Lord is the Refuge and Stronghold of my life–of whom shall I be afraid?

I’ll finish with one last thought. During the Halloween season there is a lot of “fun-spooky” stuff that goes on. I think horror movies are just apart of that fun. I think they are popular because they are metaphorical. Sometimes it is intentional and sometimes it is not, but people are drawn to it either way.

So, I have no general opinion on the horror genre. I enjoy a good story no matter what it is, but I have learned that people liked to be scared. I think I know why, too. Because fear allows us to be courageous. Without fear we have no reason to be brave. A person without fear has nothing to be concerned with, so their bravery could be looked at as foolishness.

I love the fact the God gives us the strength to face all of our fears, though. He gives us the strength to face them with courage. When we trust Christ’s wisdom, guidance, and word we can stand up against anything in our lives.

I’m sure we all have horror villains in our lives. It could be anything from worry, anxiety, guilt, laziness, or any other form of sin. Through Christ’s forgiveness and strength we can stand against it. So, as you celebrate Halloween this year, remember there is no fear you can not face as long as Christ resides in your heart. 

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